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Author Topic: Foundationless or not?  (Read 2033 times)
rottybee
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« on: February 19, 2010, 10:18:01 AM »

As some of you know, I've been getting ready for my first go at keeping bees.  I have two hives to start this spring and have purchased plasticell foundation (recommended by someone to do this).
Along with getting things ready, I have been reading, reading and reading some more. 
I have been reading with great interest about cell size and mite control and just finished reading Bush Farms article about foundationless.  I am very tempted to pop out all the plasticell I purchased and glue in strips of wood in the top bar grooves and just start this hobby off with this method.  I read somewhere that was suggested to newbies "why not start out this way"  Any thoughts on this?  Especially for a newbie? 
Thanks again

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fermentedhiker
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 10:48:16 AM »

while I'm going foundationless this coming season and think it will be the way I go from now on, you might enjoy and benefit from seeing both in action.  Since you have two hive coming why not do with each and you can compare how the two hives progress through the season. 
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iddee
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 12:31:55 PM »

Although I do like the idea of foundationless, I think it should only be attempted by an experienced beek. It may be just because I am old and resist change, but I am against plastic totally. Again, if it is used, it is best done after you have a bit of experience keeping bees.

The wired wax foundation will be the easiest way to begin, with fewer cross combed or blank areas to remove and correct. Plastic and foundationless will go much smoother after your second or third year.
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Hethen57
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2010, 01:08:24 PM »

I would echo both of the above comments.  There are so many variables in beekeeping, that I would go with what has worked in the past and then experiment on your own after you gain some experience.  That being said, I plan to try some a full foundationless hive or two this year (I tried a shallow super of foundationless last summer and they made a mess of it within a few days, luckily it was all honey so I was able to crush and strain).  You should be fine with Plasticel if you are using wood frames, in my experience they will just build slighly slower than wax foundation, but I use mostly (well waxed) Plasticel and am happy with it.  Also, if you don't have an extractor, it is very easy to scrape off the honey from the Plasticel frames and put them back in the hive for the bees to clean-up and start rebuilding.
-Mike
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annette
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2010, 11:03:35 PM »

I started out beekeeping with plastic foundation. The bees did fine on this, but after reading about foundationless frames and the bees ability to draw out the wax combs so nicely and letting the bees draw out the size they want, well I switched to frames with starter strips. The bees did a beautiful job of drawing out the combs nice and straight.  I have never had a problem with the bees drawing out the combs straight, as long as I place a frame of completely drawn out wax in the middle of the super as a guide for them. It always works out.  The one time, I forgot to place this frame in the center, well the bees still did a good job, but drew out the wax a bit to fat and I had to cut out some comb to help center it.

I just love to watch the bees draw out the comb themselves. They do this amazing thing called festooning where they make a chain of bees all attached to each other with strings of wax.

This year I am trying something new and have ordered beveled frames from Walter Kelley company and I don't need the starter strips anymore.

Give it a try.

Annette
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jclark96
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2010, 07:24:24 AM »

Feral bees don't use foundation either, but they do build some crazy combs. I have a little experience, and have run all three, foundation, plastic and foundationless. foundation being my least favorite, wax moths or SHB, then you have to unassemble the frames order new foundation possibly rewire the frames. Plastic is much better in that regard, the pests can only get to one side of the frame at a time (wax moth larvae like to eat the middle), then like stated before you just scrape it and put it back in. Foundationless is my favorite, once you assemble the frame that's it, no foundation, and when it gets messed up you just cut it out with a knife and they build it back. The previous post was correct, the bees initially cluster around the queen cage, so the first box is usually drawn from the tops down if you hang the cage from the top, once you add the second box they are moving up and just start building, you have to give them at least one drawn frame or they will draw some pretty cool combs that aren't inspection friendly. I would second one of each, and compare.
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tillie
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2010, 08:53:15 AM »

I just heard Jennifer Berry talk about a toxin study done at UGA.  They wanted to test the effects of coumaphos and fluvalinate on the bees.  To do this they wanted to start with clean wax.  They bought wax from two different "organic" beekeepers and still the wax had coumaphos and fluvalinate in it.  They determined this was from using strips of wax purchased from big companies....so Jennifer resorted to putting all of her hives on foundationless frames (48 of them) and they drew beautiful clean wax for the study.

BTW, the results of the study (surprise, surprise) were that the control hives (no chemicals added and started on foundationless frames) performed better than the treated hives on all of the measures she talked about.  The study is not complete - all data isn't in, but so far the controls at UGA with no treatment are doing better in terms of success of baby bees, foraging and coming back to the hive, less numbers of supercedure cells, etc.

Makes me want to use popsicle sticks going forward and no more wax strips.

Linda T in Atlanta
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rottybee
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2010, 11:16:35 AM »

I just heard Jennifer Berry talk about a toxin study done at UGA.  They wanted to test the effects of coumaphos and fluvalinate on the bees.  To do this they wanted to start with clean wax.  They bought wax from two different "organic" beekeepers and still the wax had coumaphos and fluvalinate in it.  They determined this was from using strips of wax purchased from big companies....so Jennifer resorted to putting all of her hives on foundationless frames (48 of them) and they drew beautiful clean wax for the study.

BTW, the results of the study (surprise, surprise) were that the control hives (no chemicals added and started on foundationless frames) performed better than the treated hives on all of the measures she talked about.  The study is not complete - all data isn't in, but so far the controls at UGA with no treatment are doing better in terms of success of baby bees, foraging and coming back to the hive, less numbers of supercedure cells, etc.

Makes me want to use popsicle sticks going forward and no more wax strips.

Linda T in Atlanta

Foundationless has gotten my attention but being new, I'm not sure what I'm gonna do.  I've bought all this plasticell so I'm inclined to use it.  At least in one hive.  I've got another month and a half before the bees arrive so I've got time to decide. 
Linda, I've been to your website and have it bookmarked along with a bunch of others.  Sorry to hear about your lost hive and good luck with the top bar hive!
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Natalie
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2010, 12:26:11 PM »

Apparently from what I am reading this is not the norm, but I started out with 8 lang hives on foundationless frames last year.
It was my first year of beekeeping and I had absolutely zero problems with it.
I have never used a wax strip either, just beveled edge top bars that I don't even bother rubbing with wax first.
I also did some topbars so all of my beehives have been on foundationless frames, no wax strips and no chemical intervention of any kind and so far so good, they have been out flying all weekend since we had some warmer weather.
I am not sure what is so daunting about it compared to using foundation, but as a new beekeeper I thought it was a great experience and have no plans to use foundation ever.
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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2010, 02:11:19 PM »

foundationless is a good fit for those of us who tend to be a bit lazy  Wink  it is great with swarms as they are comb building machines!
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JP
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2010, 03:58:36 PM »

They don't always draw perfect comb with starter strips so foundation at times mixed with foundatioinless could get them going in the right direction.

I would suggest something like pierco though or anything else in the 4.9 cell category.

I'm more of a proponent of natural cell, but do use waxed plasticell in my honey supers.


...JP
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annette
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2010, 06:44:13 PM »

I just heard Jennifer Berry talk about a toxin study done at UGA.  They wanted to test the effects of coumaphos and fluvalinate on the bees.  To do this they wanted to start with clean wax.  They bought wax from two different "organic" beekeepers and still the wax had coumaphos and fluvalinate in it.  They determined this was from using strips of wax purchased from big companies....so Jennifer resorted to putting all of her hives on foundationless frames (48 of them) and they drew beautiful clean wax for the study.

BTW, the results of the study (surprise, surprise) were that the control hives (no chemicals added and started on foundationless frames) performed better than the treated hives on all of the measures she talked about.  The study is not complete - all data isn't in, but so far the controls at UGA with no treatment are doing better in terms of success of baby bees, foraging and coming back to the hive, less numbers of supercedure cells, etc.

Makes me want to use popsicle sticks going forward and no more wax strips.

Linda T in Atlanta
I just ordered the beveled frames from Walter Kelley company.  Have you seen those??
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rottybee
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« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2010, 08:22:50 AM »

They don't always draw perfect comb with starter strips so foundation at times mixed with foundatioinless could get them going in the right direction.

I would suggest something like pierco though or anything else in the 4.9 cell category.

I'm more of a proponent of natural cell, but do use waxed plasticell in my honey supers.


...JP

I tried measuring my plasticell using the 10 cell measuring technique and I got 5. ??something.
Next, I got out my micrometers and the inside diameter of each cell is 4.8768 which is close enough to be 4.9.  I'm new to beekeeping but not using a micrometer. When you do the 10 cell thing you are also adding in the thickness of the cell walls.  Am I missing something here.?
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